Galitza make a sweet and sometimes raucous noise. A Leeds alliance of self-styled “evil pop-bitch” Emma Bob III (formerly of Chest) with most of the mortal remains of sharp-witted popsters Landspeed Loungers, they’ve combined as a pop trifle of guitar chunks, lemony organ and various voices, laced with something heady and mischievous. Sometimes they sound like a Sarah Records band, but if so they’re one that decided to ditch emotional fragility for being naughty and happy, for adopting really stupid nicknames (Dr Strikto, anyone?), and for storming pubs and cheating at cocktail-drinking competitions. They’re also a Siamese twin act fronted by a husband and wife (Stevie and Emma) who only occasionally pull the Sonny and Cher trick; and only with a sly quirk, at that.
The two sides of Galitza share certain reflexes (the touch of rumbling funk in the basement, the attractive tangle of tangy guitars), but alternate faces. When it’s Stevie’s turn at the biggest mic, Galitza are sharp-tinged indie pop with a post-Loungers taste for sardonic wit. Empty Hands races and jangles along like a perkier Furniture, putting the boot into self-serving mediocrity (“a year or two, to and fro, nothing new – / you’re just passing through / and just OK”) and to bogus management (“now they talk, now you’re in, now you’re hot. / Tomorrow comes – they forgot.”) When a bucketing chorus arrives, yelling “you wouldn’t know what to do – you wouldn’t know if it jumped up and bit you,” you realise that you could wrap this up and post it to the next train company that makes you late, the next board member to fuck you around in the office… in fact any timeserver who blows out their duties.
Closer to home (and despite the meaty guitars), You Must Be The Devil could almost be The Beautiful South – rich and delicate male and female falsettos, and a song with a broken glass in one hand. Fingernails pry apart the more welcome, teasing tortures of love… you know, the kind remembered with a twisted pleasure once it’s all dried up. “There was a time you had me hooked, you had me hooked all helplessly. / You’d reel me in, then cast me out – lucky me.” Covering Jackie Lee’s dreamy White Horses, Galitza pull it off with a mixture of mischief and affection. Emma’s inclinations to succumb to the melody’s rich sway are continually undercut by Stevie’s blissfully distorted harmony vocals.
When Emma takes the full lead, Galitza are seduced into rich and subtle melodrama – frustrated love songs, well aware of their unhealthy obsessions yet determined to ride them through. Or, unable to escape them, to cherish them instead. “You’re right, you know you are; but it still feels wrong,” Emma sings on the plaintive Stalker (in which her voice lolls luxuriantly like a stoned jazz diva across the melody and the mosaic of guitars). “It’s a stupid streak, these fits of pique, / but it’s mine, this hopeless desire – / I confide, I feel like a liar.”
For Rattle In Me, she’s much more direct. A Massive Attack-styled lust-blues, with a seismic throb of Bristol bass and a swelling thorn-bush of rising guitar mass, it’s swarming with torch tension and growing anger. “You put this rattle in me; you pull me to you: then it’s ‘just-good-friends’,” Emma murmurs, a warning vibrating just beyond her controlled cool. Add another thoroughly compelling Leeds band to the list.
Galitza: ‘Laugh Like A Horse’
Wrath Records, WRATHCD05
Released: October 2002